HomeCyberSecurity NewsGoogle Takes Legal Action Against App Developers for Creating Fake Cryptocurrency Investment...

Google Takes Legal Action Against App Developers for Creating Fake Cryptocurrency Investment App Scam

Google has taken legal action against two app developers for participating in an “international online consumer investment fraud scheme” that deceived users into downloading fake Android apps from the Google Play Store and other sources, resulting in the theft of their funds while promising high returns.

The individuals involved are Yunfeng Sun (also known as Alphonse Sun) and Hongnam Cheung (also known as Zhang Hongnim or Stanford Fischer), believed to be located in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, respectively.

The defendants reportedly uploaded around 87 crypto apps to the Play Store to execute the scam since at least 2019, attracting over 100,000 users and causing significant financial harm.

The complaint from the tech company stated, “The profits offered by the apps were deceptive, and the fraudulent activity did not stop there.”

According to Google, when victims tried to withdraw their balances, the defendants and their associates intensified the scheme by demanding various fees and payments from victims under the pretense of helping them recover their initial investments and promised profits.

Despite being commonly known as “pig butchering” (also referred to as shā zhū pán), Google clarified that it does not endorse this term, which suggests victims are enticed with promises of high returns before being exploited for their assets.

In September 2023, the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) indicated that these scams are perpetrated by criminal organizations in Southeast Asia, involving a large number of individuals who are trafficked to the region with promises of lucrative jobs.

The fraudulent scheme typically involves scammers using fake personas to target individuals on social media or dating platforms, convincing them to invest in cryptocurrency portfolios for high profits, ultimately leading to fund theft.

Google stated that Sun and Cheung used text messages via Google Voice to lure victims in the U.S. and Canada to download their fraudulent apps, along with affiliate marketing campaigns and YouTube videos promoting the fake investment platforms.

The company described the defendants’ actions as persistent and ongoing, with attempts to conceal their identities through various computer networks and misrepresented information provided to Google.

In addition to violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), committing wire fraud, and breaching various Google policies, the defendants were accused of compromising the integrity of the Google Play platform and user trust.

It is important to note that such fraudulent activities are not limited to the Android ecosystem, as fake apps have also been reported in the Apple App Store.

This legal action by Google is part of its efforts to prevent the misuse of its products, following a previous lawsuit against individuals distributing malware through fake versions of its AI chatbot.



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